This list of 11 countries that eat the least meat in the world might not surprise you too much. Meat consumption is closely related to living standards, culture, dietary habits as well as the economic situation in the country and GDP. With this being said, it is not a surprise that most countries on our list are developing countries while the list of the Countries that Eat the Most Meat is comprised of developed countries. Meat production requires a lot of resources and the environmental impact is enormous.
You’ve probably been around at least one vegan/vegetarian who kept talking about meat eating and the environmental impact of meat production. Agriculture and livestock production (which involves meat, eggs and dairy products) causes around 15% of all emissions that contribute to global warming. Enormous quantities of water and grains are needed to feed the livestock, especially cattle because they consume much more food than poultry. According to data published by PETA, one cow used for milk can drink up to 50 gallons of water per day and even twice as much if the weather is hot. Calculations show that it takes 683 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of milk and 2,400 gallons to produce 1 pound of beef. Additionally large quantities of land are used to grow crops to feed cattle and the amount of pollution they produce is enormous. You might be surprised to find out that Uruguay is the country with the highest beef consumption in the world (at 140 pounds per capita). The answer to the question of which country eats the most chicken might also surprise you since data for 2017 shows that it is Israel (128 pounds per capita) followed closely by the United States of America (108 pounds per capita).
When it comes to reasons why certain countries have lower meat intake (it’s probably not because of the environment) they vary from cultural beliefs to an inability to produce enough food for the livestock and thus being dependent on imported meat. According to a study on meat consumption, people in high income countries derive nutritional energy mainly from carbohydrates and fat with substantial consumption of meat and dairy. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO) meat consumption by country (per capita) is expected to rise even more by 2030. Consequently, meat production and trade will also rise.
Some people eat less meat or avoid certain types of meat due to cultural and/or religious reasons. For example, predominantly Muslim countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Algeria etc. have a 0 pound per capita of pork meat consumption. The reason for this is because eating pork is not allowed in Islam which directly influences the levels of pork consumption in the world. If you wonder what country eats the most pork, the OECD states that it is the European Union (comprised of 28 countries) with 72.3 pounds per capita. It is followed by China with 69.7 pounds per capita. Eating beef in India is culturally not acceptable (cow is considered to be a holy animal) although some people do consume beef. Even still, that number is considerably lower (1.1 pounds per capita) than in countries where culture and tradition do not influence meat consumption.
In order to create this list of 11 countries that eat the least meat in the world, I used data published by OECD on meat consumption around the world in 2017. Their website also offers data for meat consumption by country for 2015 and 2016. The list of countries that eat the least meat in the world did not change much but the position of countries on the list did change. For example, Bangladesh was the country with the lowest meat consumption but India surpassed it. I checked data for consumption of beef and veal, poultry, sheep meat and pork meat for each of the countries (newest data) on the list. Since this data is originally written in kilograms, I converted it to pounds using a Kilograms to Pounds Converter. Countries are listed according to their meat consumption per capita. Those with lower numbers are placed higher on our list. Let’s take a look at some countries that eat the least meat in the world.